Have you ever tried to call into a conference number from you mobile phone? It’s a royal pain.
The challenge stems from the fact that once you dial the number, you have to enter a 9 or 10 digit conference code. It’s usually right next to the phone number in your meeting invite, but if you are doing this from your phone, the whole screen blanks out when you start dialing the phone number. You have to then enter the 10 digit conference code fro memory.
Impossible. While you can memorize someone’s phone number with enough practice, committing a random sequence of 10 digits for a conference code that you will never use again is beyond most people’s capacity.
There are a few workarounds; you could write down the conference code on a separate piece of paper, if you actually have a pen handy. Or, you could take advantage of the special codes for dialing that allow you to enter pauses (comma) or pound signs (#) at the appropriate places to create one long sequence for the phone to dial (e.g. 1-877-555-1212,,,1234567890#). This however requires planning ahead to prepare it, or a very thoughtful conference call organizer.
Or you can use InstantMeeting, a free app from Plantronics.
InstantMeeting is an absolutely brilliant app. It scans your calendar for all the events that appear to have conference call details in either the Location or Notes fields. It then uses an algorithm to automatically pick out the phone number and conference code:
It has a lot of intelligence when it does this and can even use your location to choose the best number when multiple international dialing numbers are given. But if it gets it wrong, it has a simple interface that highlights the numbers – just tap a different one to change it.
When you are ready, you hit call, and InstantMeeting automatically constructs a dialing code that includes the number, the necessary pauses, the conference code, and the confirmation hash (#):
They have even taken it another step forward and added options to email or message some or all conference attendees, including some stock standard messages like “I’m Running Late” or “Still Meeting?”
My only complaint is that the only way for it to find the numbers is via a calendar entry. If someone emails or texts it to you, you have to copy it into a dummy calendar meeting for InstantMeeting to find it. You can’t paste straight into it.
I was introduced to the app by Philip Pastor, who I had exchanged some suggestions about the best way to join conference calls in reference to my post about my Plantronics bluetooth headeset. While it’s made by Plantronics, it doesn’t matter whether you are using a bluetooth headset or not. It’s just an extremely useful app for those of us who have to regularly dial into conference number from our cell phones. And they give it away for free.
They also have versions available for Android, Windows Phones, and even an Outlook plugin.
If you ever have to dial in to a conference call from your cell, go get it.